Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by jocko1104, May 24, 2003.

  1. jocko1104

    jocko1104 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 141

    I cannot even begin to convey my frustration this morning with people.

    I hired five guys last week and by today, the 6 th day, not one of them has showed up.

    What is the deal with flaky people? The work is fairly easy and I pay well. Why do people blow off such a good opportunity?

    The last guy left I was going to make him my foreman today since he was the only one to show up every day and works well. Guess what now he didn't show and wont answer the phone!

    GRRRR I juts have to vent :blob2:
  2. rodfather

    rodfather LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 9,501

    What kind of work are we talking about (mowing & trimming only?)and how much do you pay?
  3. jocko1104

    jocko1104 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 141

    Trimming and light work like mulch, pruning, etc. for $9.00.

    That is basic work with good pay (for around here at least). I am easy boss I tell them if you get tired just take a break and I dont stand over them either.

    I dont know sometimes, I think that everyone has a drug problem of something.
  4. SWD

    SWD LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 988

    jocko1104, how long have you been in business in Austin? I'm out in Spicewood, and have been running for 2+ years now.
    I have hired/fired over 48 people in this time.
    I have had only 2 employees worth any kind of raise - one was a college guy on break, the other went into the Navy. The kid that went into the Navy told me straight up he was going when I hired him, he just wanted a job for the time between when he signed up and then left.
    I could tell you all kind of horror stories about the antics, both at work and off, that these rocket scientists have done.
    Anyho, I have changed my pay schedule, rate and have even gone to accounting for shirts, ear plugs, safety glasses, equipment - literally everything. If something is messed up, and I know they did it - it comes out of their pay.
    I used to be like you, easy going, not demanding, occassionally take the guys home and the wife and I would feed them - not anymore.
    BTW, I have to hire two more as one of the guys took a four day weekend - and didn't tell me before hand.
    More than anything else, it is a sign of the times, different generation, different values.
    I feel for you as I am in that situation right now.
  5. AL Inc

    AL Inc LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,209

    jocko, I went through the same thing starting out, but I was lucky to find someone at the end of my first season. He is from El Salvador and is still with me after 8 years. He has brought his friends when we needed extra help. My whole crew is Hispanic, and I don't even bother looking for American people to work for me. My men come to work early, ready to work, neatly dressed, and polite. The communication with customers is a problem at times, but I get many compliments about what good workers I have.
    I don't know if you would consider doing this, but it may be wise to learn to speak Spanish, because these people are the future of the landscape industry. JMO, Mike
  6. Green in Idaho

    Green in Idaho LawnSite Senior Member
    from Idaho
    Messages: 833

    If someone has several Hispanics having an English program for them might be a good deal. Like after work have someone come in to teach the basics.

    Also for Jocko, maybe try a temp agency. Establish a relationship with them and then at least when the people don't show up the agency has pool of others to send to you. You don't have to do payroll, you don't have to put ads for hire, you don't have to take time from to interview, and you can tell the agency exactly what you are looking for. Only down-side is you are paying for those advantages with a premium. But consider your currnet situation, a premium may well be worth it.
  7. jocko1104

    jocko1104 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 141

    I would never use a temp agency. The premium price is just too much. The worker receives $7-8/hr and you pay like $12/hr. I could hire decent people on my own for $12/hr, I don't need a middle man.

    Spicewood? Cool I was out there yesterday doing a landscape project. I had to laugh to myself as I went out there via Hwy 620 that I passed literally over 30 LCO's! Its amazing how many crews are running in that area.

    Thanks for the support. Mabey I will just stay solo for now after all.
  8. cos

    cos LawnSite Addict
    Messages: 1,253

    Hopefully Jim Lewis jumps in on this subject. :) He established a fine landscape biz and knows how to run it efficiently with employees running it. He is one to admire.
  9. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,855

    Ok. First of all, realize that for that $12 you don't just get a laborer. The temp. agency is also covering the entire tax burden, worker's comp., liability insurance, hiring process, payroll processing, and safety gear for that price. So $12 aint bad at all when you consider all of this stuff. I think a $12 total labor burden is a pretty good deal actually. My labor burden per hour per man is more than $12.

    Still, there are probably other valid reasons for not hiring temps so I'll digress.

    I used to have a lot of problems with guys until I got better at the interviewing process. First thing to realize is that [unfortunately] most caucasions or basically anyone who was born and raised in the U.S. have a poor work ethic. Most people just aren't cut out for this kind of work, all day long. So you've got to do a better job of finding those whose background included a strong work ethic.

    One example is someone who was raised on a farm all their life or raised working on farms in the summer, etc. These guys are good strong workers and know what real work is. My foreman is like this. A Montana farm boy all his life. He'll outwork just about anyone. And honest and reliable as can be.

    Probably the biggest pool of workers in this category are immigrants from Mexico and other Central or South American countries. And being in TX, you shouldn't have any problem finding any of them! Personally, I love these guys. They are loyal, they show up to work every day on time. They never call in sick. They never have injuries. They never complain (at least not to me.) They are responsible, follow instructions, eager to please, nice to my customers, etc........ In general, about 80% of the hispanics I've hired who weren't raised here in the U.S. have been just wonderful workers. I can't say enough good about them. Whereas, only about 20% of born and raised Americans have been good reliable workers.

    The obvious challenge with hispanics is the language barrier. And there are two ways to handle that. And IMO, it's very worth it to figure out a way to handle it. 1) You can teach yourself spanish or take a class. Plenty of books on tape or CD, CD ROMs, books, websites, etc. to learn from. 2) Hire at least one guy per crew who speaks at least half-way decent english. There are plenty of good hard working hispanics who know speak english well enough to communicate with you and your customers. And as long as there's one guy like that on every crew, it doesn't really matter if the rest of the guys speak english or not. You now have a translator to communicate to them.

    The hiring process is a little difficult when you begin to take apps from hispanics. You may get a lot of calls from guys who don't speak a lick of english. And there are ways to get around that too. But you will probably get calls from guys who speak broken or halfway decent english. And those are the guys you really want to have.

    I am always fair to everyone who applies. I won't just hire ONLY hispanics. But I can't ignore my past experience. And I'll put a lot more trust into a hispanic guy whose interviewing with me than I will some caucasion guy who was raised on the city. With the latter - I am going to drill him in the interview - trying to find out his background, find out clues about his work ethic, etc. I may still give him a chance. But he'll have to prove it to me otherwise I'm going to hire the hispanic guy who comes in to interview after him.
  10. Harry0

    Harry0 LawnSite Member
    from NJ
    Messages: 223

    I definitely agree with Jim about the interview process. You should rely on your gut feeling too. If the guy shows up for the interview with a cigarette in his mouth and cursing a yellow, or red light should go up. Another question I ask is"Have you ever collected workers comp or have any injury that would cause a problem with this work". There is alot of guys who have back problems or bad knees that are just dying to kick back and watch Judge Judy all day and get paid by you. I learned the hard way-because I used to give guys the mirror test (hold a mirror to there mouth if they steam it their hired)-Now I am always behind and in need of more help but not stressed out and wondering what incompetent help is doing Harry

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